Healthcare in the United States has rapidly changed in the last 100 years. From house-calls and community clinics to commercialized hospitals and facilities, the healthcare industry has evolved in every way. A marked shift has been from decentralized to centralized healthcare.
What’s the difference? Decentralized healthcare includes community-based and home-based services. Examples of this could be home visits, hospital at home programs and personal home nurses.
On the other hand, centralized healthcare is facility-based. This means that patients are expected to come to the medical facility and pay for the services and amenities provided. Due to COVID-19 and the rise of telehealth, medical care has seen a resurgence of decentralization.
Continue reading for more information on decentralization and technology in telehealth, on-demand care, virtual specialty care, hospital at home programs and administration technology.
Technology in Virtual Care and Telehealth
While telehealth was first initiated to provide accessible healthcare services to people who may have otherwise been unable to access them, it has since transformed into a common service that millions of people use everyday. One company has seen a 5x telehealth visit increase in just one month due to COVID-19. Virtual care providers are trying out all kinds of innovative methods and technologies to make telehealth better. Some of these digital health innovations include:
- Messaging and chat interfaces
- Video calls
- Interdisciplinary care teams
- Medical wearable interoperability
- Symptom logs and trackers
- Immediate transfers to available virtual specialists
These technologies have taken healthcare from a facility back into patient’s homes.
House-Calls and On-Demand Care Technology
Healthcare decentralization has also increased with the resurgence of house-calls and on-demand care. Popular in the early to mid 1900s, house-calls have practically fallen out of existence. With hospitals and primary care facilities located in almost every town, most clinicians feel that there is no longer a need for house-calls. But, with a rise in demand for healthcare alternatives, some physicians are saving their bottom line by implementing house-call technologies.
One example of a company employing this healthcare technology is DispatchHealth. Using the mobile app, patients can request an at-home visit through DispatchHealth. Once requested, a Nurse Practitioner of Physicians Assistant, along with a medical technician, will arrive shortly to provide care. Some use this service for urgent needs, such as dehydration or stomach pains, without having to pay the cost of emergency services.
Many patients are looking for personal connections with their doctors. It is difficult to establish this kind of connection when you are limited to a thirty minute visit twice a year. When doctors know more about their patients, they can better diagnose and treat them.
Virtual Specialty Care Technology
One of the most frustrating aspects of centralized healthcare is the lack of access to speciality doctors and the incredibly long wait-times. Even once a patient does get into contact with a specialist, their medical records may have not been sent or are incompatible with the specialist's technology. Decentralization healthcare technologies have allowed patients to engage in nontraditional ways with their specialists.
There are a few different ways that virtual health technologies are tackling these problems. eConsult allows primary care providers to interact with a specialist. The primary care provider will explain the symptoms or diagnosis of the patient and then the specialist can provide a treatment plan, request more information or ask for an in-person meeting with the patient. This saves time and money for patients and specialists alike.
Medical wearables and collaborative interfaces have also allowed specialists and patients to work together on long-term care. This is especially important for people with chronic issues. Personal health management is one of the most difficult parts of long-term healthcare. With medical wearables and symptom logs, specialists can view their patients data and remotely support their efforts through chatting interfaces.
Technology in Hospital-at-Home Programs
Although Hospital-at-Home (HaH) programs have been offered by varying hospitals for a while, they are beginning to gain more popularity. Typically offered to seniors for hospice care or disabled and chronic patients, HaH programs bring medical equipment and personnel straight to a patients home. These programs have been shown to reduce costs for both hospitals and patients. In fact, Johns Hopkins HaH program was shown to save 30% more per admission than through a regular hospital admission.
Technology such as smart monitors, tablets and high-speed internet have greatly increased the efficiency and safety of Hospital-at-Home programs. Medically Home is a company that provides Hospital-at-Home equipment. Their offerings include on-demand medical care management and specialized technology.
These types of healthcare innovations are driving decentralization in the industry. At a lower cost to providers and to patients, this healthcare model may become much more common in the future.
Healthcare Administration Management Technology
When it comes to technological innovations, waiting room management tends to be lacking in many practices and hospitals. Considering that a patient's first impression of a medical facility is the waiting room, one would think that more facilities would implement management technology.
If you are looking to deliver a better, more efficient waiting room experience for your patients, you should check out DocClocker. Great for virtual and in-person healthcare providers, DocClocker can provide exactly what you need for your waiting room. Take a look at some of our services:
- Real-time wait time
- Remote check-in
- Doctor locator
- DOC-OR: Mobile operating room updates
- Reviewing platform
- Patient notes
Go to https://info.docclocker.com to learn more.